It’s summertime, and that means fireflies are out and about. Firefly Watch is a citizen science project that gathers data on local firefly populations, and you can help right from your backyard!
Weigh in on Green Transportation
State agencies and transportation groups are holding public workshops on the future of green transportation. Massachusetts is part of the multi-state Transportation and Climate Initiative working to adopt a regional, low-carbon transportation policy. We’ve provided past input with our partners.
→ Worcester and Boston will participate in a new urban heat island mapping project.
→ Discussing climate change leads to more acceptance of its science.
Today kicks off National Pollinator Week! Massachusetts is home to hundreds of pollinator species like bees, butterflies, beetles, and hummingbirds that are vital to fruit and vegetable crops and ecosystem health. Pollinators are threatened by pesticides, climate change, and habitat loss, and many species are in serious decline.
The good news is, there are lots of ways you can help:
Contact your state legislators in support of our priority pollinator bill, which would help protect more of their habitat here in Massachusetts.
Attend a pollinator program at Mass Audubon, or visit one of our wildlife sanctuaries with a pollinator garden to see their benefits firsthand.
Donate to Mass Audubon to fund pollinator-friendly management practices on our lands, create more gardens with native plants, and teach others how to make their land more welcoming to pollinator species.
Today kicks off National Pollinator Week! Massachusetts is home to hundreds of pollinator species vital to fruit and vegetable crops and ecosystem health. Many pollinator species are in serious decline, but there are lots of ways you can help.
A curated selection of climate news
from Mass Audubon’s climate change program manager
Mass Audubon will be speaking at this event next week on transforming climate awareness into action
Two and a half years into the Trump Administration, no climate change regulatory rollback has yet survived legal challenge in court
Climate Funding Bills in the Spotlight
Bills filed by Governor Baker and SpeakerDeLeo to fund climate change preparedness will have hearings at the State House this week. We’ll be providing testimony with partners, including our Climate Change Adaptation Coalition, in support of both bills. Look for our comments in next week’s Roundup.
Action You Can Take This Week: Help Protect Our Coasts
Legislation protecting Massachusetts waters from offshore oil and gas drilling had its State House hearing last week. The bill, S.448, would make it more difficult for federal drilling projects to move forward off our coasts. We support S.448, and you can support it too.
A curated selection of climate news
from Mass Audubon’s climate change program manager
Across Massachusetts, communities are taking their energy decisions into their own hands. Many have started incorporating renewable energy components into their Community Choice Aggregation programs as a way to step up on local climate action.
Funding Farming Programs for Schools
We’ve submitted testimony in support of state legislation to fund schools’ collaboration with local farms – a win/win, since assisting schools to serve local food in school meals, provide nutrition education, and increase garden-based learning would benefit students, teachers, and farmers.
State legislation protecting Massachusetts waters from offshore oil and gas drilling had its State House hearing last week. The bill, S.448, An Act protecting our coasts from offshore drilling, would limit or prohibit state-level approvals and activities related to offshore drilling, making it more difficult for federal drilling projects to move forward off our coasts.
The US Department of the Interior plans to expand offshore oil and gas leasing off US coastlines. This expansion – not to mention the potential for catastrophic oil spills – off the Massachusetts Outer Continental Shelf could have severe impacts on fisheries, wildlife habitat, and geological resources.
Massachusetts and all of New England depend on a thriving coastal and ocean economy, and that success in turn depends on healthy coastal and ocean ecosystems. This expansion would place at risk natural resources like Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, which provides feeding and nursery grounds for species like the endangered humpback and North Atlantic right whale, and the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts, biodiversity hotspots that are home to deep sea corals found nowhere else on Earth. It would also be a big step backwards in our fight against climate change.
We submitted testimony in support of S.448, and you can help too.
If your state representative or senator is a member of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, contact them and urge them to report the bill favorably out of committee, so it can continue its path toward being signed into law. Even if your legislator isn’t on the Committee, you can ask them to contact Committee members in favor of the bill.
A federal judge recently upheld permanent protection for certain areas of the Atlantic Ocean, along with nearly all of the Arctic Ocean, against the drilling expansion, but the federal government is appealing that decision. Even in the case of another court victory, much of the Atlantic Ocean is still at risk from expanded drilling. S.448 would provide an added layer of protection to lessen that risk.
Most of our neighboring New England states are considering similar legislation, and if enacted, these bills collectively could help protect the entire region from offshore drilling-related activity in state waters.
Mass Audubon supports the Green New Deal, but the US Senate has been unwilling to seriously discuss the climate’s breakdown. In the meantime, Massachusetts should step up at the state level. The latest Op Ed from our advocacy director dives into this idea.
Support for Darker Night Skies
We submitted testimony in favor of legislation aimed at darker night skies. Brightly lit buildings can disorient migratory birds, and reducing unnecessary outdoor lighting would not only help protect wildlife, it would reduce emissions and save money.
A Battered Buffer
Mass Audubon weighed in for this Boston Globe article on the plight of the North Shore’s Great Marsh. The area is one of New England’s most vital coastal ecosystems, but climate change poses a threat to its survival.
Offshore Wind and Whales
With partners, we commented on the Vineyard Wind project’s latest phase of permitting, which deals with marine mammal impacts. Our letter focused on ensuring species like the highly endangered North Atlantic right whale remain protected as the project moves forward.
As the FY20 state budget continues
its progress through the State House, we’re at a crucial point for Mass
Audubon’s Blue Hills Trailside Museum funding.
Trailside is the interpretive center
for the state-owned Blue Hills Reservation and features a natural
history museum and outdoor exhibits of rescued wildlife. Mass Audubon operates
the museum in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and
Recreation, which means we receive a crucial component of Trailside’s funding
through the state budget each fiscal year. Trailside welcomes more than 100,000
visitors a year and is home to the Snowy Owl Project.
Although the Governor’s original
FY20 budget did not include funding for Trailside, Senator Walter Timilty has
filed an amendment requesting $1 million for the site. The Senate begins debate
of their version of the FY20 budget on May 21.
Over the past few years, Trailside
has faced a continuing revenue shortfall and received only a fraction of the
state funding needed to sustain its operation and public programs. Senator
Timilty’s amendment is a chance to reclaim that much-needed funding.
You can help! Please contact your state Senator and ask
them to cosponsor Senator Timilty’s Amendment #908 for Trailside, and to
support the amendment when it comes up for debate next week. A quick call
or email can make a big difference. Thank you for your advocacy!
Congressperson for Supporting Climate Action
Last week Congress passed the Climate Action Now Act to uphold US commitment to the Paris climate agreement. It’s the first large-scale climate change legislation to pass congress in nearly 10 years, and Massachusetts’ delegation unanimously voted yes. Please take a minute to contact your representative to thank them for taking climate action.
Meeting with Congressman Moulton
Mass Audubon and our environmental partners met with Congressman Seth Moulton last week at his Salem office, where our discussion included topics like conservation funding and regional marine fisheries issues. Learn more about the meeting.
A curated selection of climate news from Mass Audubon’s climate change program manager
Mass Audubon has a new Climate Action Facebook group – join today
Upholding National Environmental Protections
We joined partners in opposing changes in the Navy’s compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act. The proposed revision would make it easier to approve projects that adversely affect endangered and threatened species
Coastal Protections at Risk
We also submitted joint comments on proposed changes to the Coastal Zone Management Act, which would weaken state-level review of federal coastal development projects. This is especially problematic at a time when expanded offshore oil and gas drilling has been proposed at the federal level.
Offshore Drilling Expansion Delayed
Good news though – federal plans to expand offshore drilling have been postponed. The delay is largely due to a recent court decision upholding protections in parts of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans. While this news is encouraging, a delay doesn’t mean our fight is over, so we’ll be keeping it up.
Poll of the Week
According to a MassInc poll, 68% of Massachusetts voters support the creation of a regional carbon-trading plan for transportation.
In Massachusetts, nearly 100 communities have taken action to
reduce pollution by passing single-use plastic bag bans. Now, the state
legislature has a chance to pass legislation that would create a cohesive,
We testified last week before the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture in support of An Act reducing plastic bag pollution(H.771), which would significantly reduce the use of single-use plastic bags across the state.
Over 100 billion plastic shopping bags are consumed in the US each year, and while a small portion are reused or recycled, millions end up in landfills and along roadsides, in waterways, and floating in the ocean.
These single-use bags pose a threat to sea turtles, whales, and other marine animals that die from eating plastic bags they mistake for food. And because they are made from polyethylene, which is made from crude oil and natural gas, plastic bags deplete nonrenewable resources and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.
Countries across the globe have started getting serious about plastic bags – the UK, Bangladesh, China, and dozens of others have successfully banned or introduced a tax on disposable plastic bags.
Mass Audubon will continue to support communities in their local efforts, but it’s time for Massachusetts to take action at the statewide level to provide consistency for businesses and consumers.
You can help! Please email your state representative and ask them to support H.771. Let them know that we need a comprehensive, statewide policy to reduce single-use plastic bags and the pollution they cause in our oceans and waterways. Reducing the use of these bags statewide will contribute to a shift away from disposable, petroleum-based products.
Good news – the Trump administration’s plan to expand offshore oil and gas drilling in parts of the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans has been blocked in federal court.
Thanks to a lawsuit brought forward by the League of Conservation Voters and ten other conservation and indigenous groups, a federal judge has upheld permanent protection from offshore drilling for select protected areas of the Atlantic Ocean, and nearly all of the Arctic Ocean, as established by President Obama in 2016.
Mass Audubon has been speaking out on this issue too, and while this is decidedly a victory, our work isn’t over. Much of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are still at risk from expanded drilling, and the Trump administration will likely appeal the ruling.
We have to keep up the opposition! At the national level, the Coastal & Marine Economies Protection Act was introduced in Congress to ban offshore drilling & seismic testing on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. And here in Massachusetts, Mass Audubon supports legislation filed by Cape and Islands Senator Julian Cyr that would prohibit offshore oil and gas drilling in state waters. We’ll keep you posted on opportunities to support these bills as they comes up for hearings and votes.
And save the date – our partners at the Massachusetts chapter of the Surfrider Foundation will be organizing a Boston-area event on May 18 as part of Hands Across the Sand. This global initiative is a chance to stand in solidarity and support protection of our lands and waters from fossil fuel development.